Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Governor Bill Richardson Extends Moratorium on New Oil & Gas Driling in SF County & Galisteo Basin

Governor Richardson's Press Release and Executive Order :

- Governor Richardson has issued an Executive Order extending by six months a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling in Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin. The moratorium will allow more time for government agencies to gather information and begin rulemakings to protect water aquifers, archeological and cultural resources, and wildlife in this ecologically fragile area. The extended temporary moratorium will be in place through January 24, 2009.

“I am committed to protecting ground water, archaeological, cultural, and wildlife areas in the Galisteo Basin,” said Governor Bill Richardson. “I remain gravely concerned that oil and gas drilling activities could negatively affect those resources, so I have extended the temporary moratorium to allow further information gathering and protections to be put in place.”

The Governor’s order means that the Oil Conservation Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department will temporarily suspend, for an additional six months, the processing and granting of applications for permits to drill for oil and gas in Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin.

Among other things, the Executive Order directs the following additional actions:

  • The Oil Conservation Division to investigate appropriate rules, regulations and statutory changes in an effort to protect this fragile and ecologically sensitive area. The Oil Conservation Division should begin to draft any regulations it deems necessary and seek public comment on them.
  • The New Mexico Environment Department to more thoroughly investigate the adoption of air quality regulations to further protect ambient (outdoor) air quality impacts from gas and oil drilling activity in Santa FeCounty and the Galisteo Basin.
  • The Office of the State Engineer to undertake a site-specific analysis of the fresh water supplies in the Galisteo Basin in order to better protect this precious and valuable resource.
  • The Department of Cultural Affairs to develop a timeline for and begin to undertake the necessary surveys and studies to determine what cultural resources exist within the Galisteo Basin and to establish an appropriate and comprehensive resource-based planning process.
  • The Department of Cultural Affairs to work with the Office of the Governor and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation to identify and secure financial resources to fully implement P.L. 108-208, the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act (2004).
  • The Indian Affairs Department to continue to serve as the lead agency to seek and gather input from the New Mexico Tribes, Nations, and Pueblos about potential oil and gas drilling in Santa Fe County and the Galisteo Basin.

“We welcome the additional time to propose new rules to allow for a more complete hearing that ensures protection of human health, the environment, and water,” said Joanna Prukop, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. “We need additional and more detailed information to fully evaluate the potential impacts of oil and gas drilling on the diverse natural and cultural resources found in the basin.”

Executive Agencies affected by this Executive Order are required to submit their reports to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department no later than December 1, 2008. The EMNRD will compile and submit a consolidated report to the Office of the Governor by January 7, 2009."

Full text of the Executive Order follows: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/orders/2008/EO_2008_038.pdf

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